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The rise of CCTV in monitoring care

People who receive care in their own homes, or in a residential or nursing care facility are often very vulnerable. Some people are taking steps to monitor their loved one’s care by using hidden cameras. In this week’s blog, Ann Gamble, a service user and member of the PCC’s Membership Scheme speaks of the need to have a sensible discussion around the use of CCTV and hidden cameras in the monitoring of people’s care.

Last week we heard news of abuse happening at a residential psychiatric facility in Muckamore Abbey Hospital.  Whilst the investigation into these incidents is ongoing, I feel it would be unfair to comment on it, but it does open up the debate around the use of cameras in monitoring care.  Much of what has happened in Muckamore has only been discovered because staff have been reviewing recorded footage from their CCTV system.

Oftentimes it can be very difficult to prove if abuse has occurred without witnesses or video footage.  This can be made all the more difficult when it involves vulnerable patients who are either incapable of speaking out, or too scared to. This means abuse can go on for long periods of time undetected.                 

In January this year news broke of a care worker caught on camera abusing an elderly woman she was supposed to be caring for in Northamptonshire.  Gina Owen had installed a hidden camera in her mother’s living room after she suspected her care worker was not caring for her mum properly.  What she discovered was heart-breaking.  Rather than just seeing a poor standard of care, Gina witnessed the carer hitting and verbally insulting her mother.  Had she not used the hidden camera, it is possible this abuse may never have been found out.

Advancing technology has meant that small, discrete video cameras are widely available and affordable.  This has given rise to more and more people using them to monitor the care a loved one is receiving, both in their own homes and in residential or nursing homes.  In response to this the Care Quality Commission in England produced an information leaflet back in 2015 to give people advice and information on the use of hidden cameras.  But should it be left up to families or friends to take this course of action?  Who looks out for those in our society who don’t have anyone else to support them?

There is a strong need to respect people’s privacy, particularly as many of these facilities are, for all intents and purposes, people’s homes.  Some of us might not like the idea of cameras in our house watching our every move 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but what if it helped ensure your safety?  It poses an important question; does the need to ensure residents’ wellbeing and safety have greater importance than their right to privacy and dignity?

If you were a vulnerable resident in a care facility, would you want a camera monitoring you in your bedroom or bathroom?  What about if cameras were just in the communal areas – do you think that would provide adequate protection?  Would you feel reassured in the knowledge the system was in place with the intention of keeping you safe, or would you feel it was an invasion of your privacy?  Would you worry that people were listening in to your conversations or monitoring your daily habits?  Should only relatives be able to view CCTV footage recorded in their loved one’s bedroom to ensure they are safe and being cared for appropriately?

These are really important questions that everyone should think about and I think it is vital that we have a sensible discussion around this controversial topic.

How do you feel about cameras being used to monitor care?  Would you be concerned about your privacy?  Do you feel there are other less invasive ways to help prevent abuse?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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Previous comments ...

Anonymous 08-Aug-2018 at 11:59 hrs

On the whole I think cameras would be a good idea if relatives agree to ones put in bedrooms etc and certainly put in all communal areas as sometimes even the carers and nursing staff can suffer abuse and physical attacks from patients. My sister-in-law was attacked by a patient and required stitches in her arm!!! So, it would work both ways!!

The whole situation needs careful consideration....but employing the right staff in the first place would be a good start in reducing the problem.


Anonymous 08-Aug-2018 at 11:58 hrs

I agree with your conclusions but I think that the institutions should be electronically monitoring their staff actions both for patient protection as well as their personnel. It is akin to crying rape if you have a competent, malevolent patient accusing personnel of wrongdoing as well as the vulnerable elder patient being physically or emotionally abused. Location of cameras is obviously important and should obviously not include bathroom spaces and may promote better dignity protection in other living areas.


Phyllis Mc Goldrick 07-Aug-2018 at 17:16 hrs

I would be 100% in favour of CCTV camera to be installed for all disabled peoples homes where strangers are paid to look after the sick person.

I have a chronic condition myself and had a fake camera installed in 2012 after my home was broken into.I live alone and was in my upstairs bedroom.Thankfully the Intruder choose not to rumage the house only my front room.Bought the fake camera from EBay.Best thing I ever did.Fake camera cost me less than £25,works on 2 AA batteries.


Tony Brady 07-Aug-2018 at 11:53 hrs

CCTV is now a requirement in Care Homes. The majority of carers can be absolutely trusted but a minority of abusers have determined the need for this form of supplementary safety protection. I would particularly advocate the use of CCTV in residential care facilities for the Learning Disabled. A recent event brought to my attention, involved the abuse of a LD resident. Staff reported this and it was ignored. So much so, as the abuse went unrecorded and continued a concerned staff member and witness to the abuse took a photo
graph of the resident's wounded head and showed it to their Union. Result? The concerned staff member, who took the photo, was reported by the manager to the police and is likely to lose their job for a breach of contract. In my 40 years experiencer, most abuse of the Learning Disabled is unwitnessed and as one on one the LD abused is disbelieved. CCTV is warranted surely.


Stephen Kennedy 07-Aug-2018 at 01:49 hrs

As a retired Estates officer who worked in the BCH and RVH, and someone who has 12 cameras around his home premises I feel I can comment with some degree of expertise.

This issue needs fully discussed and the use of cameras regulated.

Firstly cameras are here to stay and can be used in various ways, with or without audio, colour, B & W , overt or covert.

The law needs to be studied in this field as it can sometimes lead to litigation in certain instances.

For a son to monitor his agreeable mother at home is vastly different that an employed carer to do the same thing.

The monitoring and playback is extremely time consuming, with fast forward it helps but sti is slow.

There will be different regulations and indeed leglislation for home, business and indeed in the care sector.

My feelings are that as far as the use of cctv in the care sector is a must but only by arrangement with ALL stakeholders, patients, relatives and the care team.

These are a few random thoughts and I would like to contribute to sny furthur discussion on this subject.

Stephen Kennedy
Member of the Institute of Hospital Engineers and Estate Managers


Jayne Connery 05-Aug-2018 at 07:33 hrs

I’m the Founder of Care Campaign for the Vulnerable and we’ve worked hard over 5 years promoting and championing safety Monitoring in all communal areas in all care homes to be made law. The success of our initiative has gained the full support of former Attorney General Dominic Grieve and he will be heading into parliament after recess.

Through the work I do visiting care homes I understand the huge pressure faced by all who work in them and transparency is needed when working with Vulnerable people. These people are suffering falls and preventable/non preventable accidents - Carers require protecting too.


A Mitten 04-Aug-2018 at 17:54 hrs

From my experience of having a vulnerable adult in care, I would want a personal surveillance camera with me everywhere I went, including in my bedroom, which is controlled and accessed 24/7 only by my family. This is because it is the only way vulnerable adults have reliable and undisputable protection from abuse and neglect and have dignity. Family will have been the vulnerable adult’s carer until as a last resort he or she was admitted into care so it is reasonable to expect that there is nothing which could be interpreted as dignity issues in these cases.

Vulnerable adults have no dignity at present. There is no dignity in being abused and neglected. Also when controlled and accessed solely by family or reliable friend, footage is for certain untampered with and is reliable evidence so that that those who abuse the vulnerable are accountable.

Apparently it was not known that surveillance cameras in the public areas of Muckamore Abbey were live. The reality and question on everyone’s lips is if this had been known, would the abuse have been caught out or would the abuse still have been happening but away from camera view.

Covert and family controlled surveillance cameras have been the only reliable way in which abhorrent neglect and abuse of vulnerable residents have been caught out, not just in Muckamore Abbey but in a large number of other care homes.

Constantly advancing technologies are widely used to evidence and protect in all areas of life but shamefully not to protect our vulnerable in care where it is evidenced these technologies are needed most.

Small worn on person technology and apps which our loved ones could wear comfortably and easily and without intruding on another resident are available but unfortunately not in care homes and care provision. By using this technology families can see their loved ones anytime 24/7 and know how they are. This lessens family worry, gives reassurance and is the only way there can be any sort of trust in the care system.

Surveillance Cameras are now an everyday part of all areas of life and used as a reliable means to evidence crime on the streets, on buses, in the workplace, etc. etc. They are also used in kennels so that dog owners can check on their pets and in abattoirs to ensure animals are treated humanely. Our vulnerable in care and receiving care provision who are equally or more in need of surveillance camera protection against crime are the ones who are being denied it.

It is well documented that care facilities cover up abuse and neglect to self-protect and so the distressing and very real likelihood is that surveillance camera footage controlled by anyone other than family which shows our loved ones being neglected and cruelly treated will be keep secret. No one other than family or reliable friend, and definitely not the care providers, can be trusted to control surveillance cameras.

There has been discussion for years and based on the overwhelming evidence of abuse and neglect in so many care facilities, it is urgent and decisive action which is now needed.


Tony Brady 04-Aug-2018 at 17:40 hrs

I believe CCTV camera monitoring should be mandatory in all residential care home for Learning Disabled individuals. I have over 40 years experience with issues concerning this group. Unless there is an independent witness to abuse of a learning disabled person they are denied justice due to "one against one" conditions.

In my experience , even when concerned staff, seeing abuse going unrecorded, report on colleagues as "whistle-blowers" and produce photographic evidence, they are reported to the police with a view to being prosecuted by their employers.

I would not prosecute staff for taking direct action by video or photography. CCTV would be a safeguard for both vulnerable individuals and their paid carers in residential settings.


David Harold Briggs 04-Aug-2018 at 12:41 hrs

I take the arguing for monitoring carers. Invasive comes to mind. A few years ago I heard of someone who was anxious about a partner who had a mental condition. Had a tracker installed in partner's phone. This was done out of good caring but to me was invasive. Tracking of young people by parents on mobile is not good either. Who would monitor the voyeur relatives?


CAROLINE WHEELER 03-Aug-2018 at 23:01 hrs

hi PCC
I've had cameras in my disabled sons house for the last 8 years...
I wouldn't be without them... It gives me such peace if mind...i can be anywhere in the world & flick on & check in on him without... Having to take the word of the carer....



charlie lynn 03-Aug-2018 at 18:52 hrs

Hello, I would just like to say what a pity it is that people have to install hidden CCTV to make sure their loved ones are cared for properly. I think people are right to do this to get peace of mind.


Joy scott 03-Aug-2018 at 16:32 hrs

I’m all for cameras being used to monitor care